Berberine (generic name)
- Auto Immune Conditions
- Bladder & Kidney Health
- Brain & Nervous System
- Care Transitions
- Dental Health
- Emotional Health
- Eye Health
- Falls Prevention
- Financial Planning
- General Safety
- Health Care Basics
- Healthy Living
- Hearing Loss
- Heart Health
- High Blood Pressure
- Life Transitions
- Lung Health
- Men's Health
- Nutrition & Weight Management
- Pain Management
- Preventive Health
- Sexual Health
- Stomach & Digestive Health
- Stress & Anxiety
- Women's Health
TraditionWARNING: DISCLAIMER: The below uses are based on tradition, scientific theories, or limited research. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider. There may be other proposed uses that are not listed below.
Alcoholic liver disease, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial (typanosomes), antioxidant, antiviral, arthritis, bile secretion, burns, cancer, cardiovascular disease, dental conditions (root canal), dental hygiene, eye infections (general), fatigue, fever, headaches, high blood pressure, immunostimulant, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leukemia, leukopenia, liver disease (alcoholic), osteoporosis, respiratory disorders, sedative, skin infections, urinary tract infection, ventricular tachyarrhythmias, yeast infections.
Adults (18 years and older)
A wide range of doses has been studied for berberine, although no dose has been proven effective. Berberine is possibly safe when taken by mouth in doses up to 2 grams daily for eight weeks. For hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), 0.5 gram of berberine twice daily for three months has been used. For infectious diarrhea, berberine sulfate 400 milligrams as a single dose has been used. For thrombocytopenia, berberine bisulfate 5 milligrams, three times daily (20 minutes before meals) for 15 days has been used.
As an injection into the vein, berberine has been infused at a rate of 0.2 milligrams/kilogram per minute for 30 minutes. Injections should only be given under the supervision of a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist.
Children (younger than 18 years)
There is no proven effective dose for berberine in children. Nonetheless, berberine is possibly safe when used in otherwise healthy children, as young as two months, at recommended doses for treatment of diarrhea up to six days.
SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoided in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to berberine, to plants that contain berberine [Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal), Coptis chinensis (coptis or goldenthread), Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape), Berberis vulgaris (barberry), and Berberis aristata (tree turmeric)], or to members of the Berberidaceae family. Allergic reactions have been reported, with symptoms of vomiting, itching, and a feeling of faintness.
Side Effects and Warnings
Berberine has been reported to cause nausea, vomiting, hypertension (high blood pressure), respiratory failure and paresthesias (abnormal sensations such as numbness or tingling); however, clinical evidence of such adverse effects is not prominent in the literature. Rare adverse effects including headache, skin irritation, facial flushing, headache, bradycardia (slowed heart rate) have also been reported with the use of berberine. Use cautiously when taking berberine for longer than eight weeks due to theoretical changes in bacterial gut flora.
Use cautiously in individuals with diabetes, as both human and animal studies indicate that berberine may decrease blood sugar levels. Also use cautiously in individuals with hypotension (low blood pressure), as berberine may have antihypertensive effects.
Patients with cardiovascular disease should also use caution as berberine has been associated with the development of ventricular arrhythmias in subjects with congestive heart failure.
Although not well studied in humans, berberine may also theoretically cause delays in small intestinal transit time or increase the risk of bleeding.
Berberine may cause abortion, eye or kidney irritation, nephritis (inflamed kidneys), dyspnea (difficulty breathing), flu-like symptoms, giddiness, lethargy, or liver toxicity.
Patients with leukopenia (abnormally low white blood cell count) should use cautiously due to the potential for development of leukopenia symptoms.
When injected under the skin, berberine may cause hyperpigmentation in the arm. Use berberine cautiously in individuals with high exposure to sunlight or artificial light due to potential for adverse phototoxic reactions.
Avoid in newborns due to potential for increase in free bilirubin, jaundice, and development of kernicterus (brain damage caused by severe newborn jaundice). Use berberine cautiously in children due to a lack of safety information.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Berberine is not recommended in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of available scientific evidence. Although not well studied in humans, berberine has been suggested to have anti-fertility, abortifacient (abortion inducing), and uterine stimulant activity.
Berberine may cause kernicterus (brain damage) when used in newborn jaundiced babies, such as bilirubin encephalopathy (degenerative brain disease).